Forty-eight hours before India play their first official game of the tournament, a Super 10 match versus Pakistan, MS Dhoni’s side managed to gather what is termed ‘momentum’. In Twenty20 cricket competitions, where there is little time between games, captains hopes to continue their streak from a winning match.
India will meet West Indies, the defending champions, with a day’s gap following their match against Pakistan. Losses in one or both of these games could make it tougher for India to advance because their group also includes Australia. Bangladesh too are set to advance to the same group of the Super 10s. India’s assignments over the 11 days will be against: arch-rivals, defending champs, hosts and the pedigreed Aussies.
The 20-run win over England in the final warm-up match puts the Indians in the right frame of mind ahead of more serious assignments coming up. The team will take away ‘positives’, the other frequently used word by captains to assure themselves and their teammates that all is well.
The ‘positives’ are as follows. Virat Kohli made a crucial contribution at No.3, like he does so often in the shorter formats of the game. He came in after Rohit Sharma fell cheaply and soon Shikhar Dhawan too perished, to a brilliant catch in the covers. But Rohit ensured that the England bowlers didn’t settle down.
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Suresh Raina, batting at No.5 in this game, made a half-century in typically belligerent fashion. He hit two sixes, the second of which was a slog over square leg for his fifty. Raina, who is currently only part of the Twenty20 set-up, also hit six fours and scored his runs at a strike rate of nearly 175. The corresponding figure for Kohli was 154.16. The two batsmen ran up a 81-run stand helped the side overcome the damage caused by losing three wickets in the Powerplay overs. Then, there was Dhoni. The skipper finished off the innings in style, hitting one six and one four and remained unbeaten on 21 off 14 balls.
Michael Lumb and Alex Hales were threatening to take the game away in the early part of the innings. But after being hit for a six and a four, Bhuvneshwar Kumar used an in-cutter, bowled at good pace to knock over Hales’ woodwork.
Lumb fell four overs later to Raina, who gives his captain an option with the ball. Raina deceived Lumb as the batsman came down the wicket to be stumped by Dhoni. The spinners picked up four of the six England wickets that fell. Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets, picking up Jos Butler in the same way Raina got rid of Lumb. Ashwin was fortunate that Eoin Morgan hit a full toss straight to Yuvraj Singh at long-on.
Though this was a tidy performance, not everything went to plan. Leggie Amit Mishra was expensive while Varun Aaron game away 13 runs in his only over. Some of the fielding in the deep was shoddy.
Yet as far as momentum goes, this match gave India some. This was their first win in any format over a Test playing nation, other than Bangladesh, in over three months. That in itself is a big ‘positive’.
Brief scores: India 178/4 in 20 overs (V Kohli 74, S Raina 54; J Dernbach 1/27, R Bopara 1/25) beat England 158/6 in 20 overs (M Lumb 36, M Ali 46; R Ashwin 1/20, R Jadeja 2/23) by 20 runs